Vice Admiral Harry B. Jarrett USN

USS Jarrett FFG-33 is named for the late Vice Admiral Harry B. Jarrett, USN (1898-1974), an outstanding sailor of World War II. He received the Navy Cross for heroism in the Battle of the Coral Sea and served with great valor as a destroyer screen commander for the fast carrier task force operations in the Pacific as well as a bombardment group commander in the Marshall and Marianas campaigns.

He was awarded the Legion of Merit for command of his destroyer fire support unit In the Marianas campaign. The Silver Star Medal for gallantry in commanding the destroyer screen for carrier striking the Palaus, the Philippines and the Marianas; and the Bronze Star Medal for heroic actions as Commander Scouting Line for the fast carrier force bound for the raids early in 1945 on Okinawa, Tokyo, and Formosa.

Upon the close of World War II, Vice Admiral Jarrett had commanded the light cruiser USS Astoria CL-90; was a member of the staff of the Training Command, U.S. Atlantic Fleet; served as the Plans and Policy Officer (Naval Reserve) under the Chief of Naval Operations; and was Senior Military Attaché, Taiwan, before successive command of Destroyer Flotilla 4 and Cruiser Flotilla4. In February 1953, he became the Deputy Inspector General, Navy Department, serving until his retirement in November 1954.

The Importance of the Solomon Islands

The Soloman Islands, extending to the southeast from the larger land mass of New Guinea, formed a natural set of stepping stones to forward bases from which a Japanese could choke off the sea lanes to Australia. In August 1942, the Allies launched Operation Watchtower to block the Japanese advance south and seize an airstrip being carved out of the jungle on the little-known island of Guadalcanal. In seven months, the Allies succeeded in occupation and defense of the island before establishing aerial supremacy and going to the offensive to the north.

Battles of Savo Island and Guadalcanal

Almost 60 years ago, the area of water surrounded by by Savo and Guadalcanal Islands became known as Iron Bottom Sound. It is the watery graveyard for over a hundred Japanese and Allied battleships, cruisers, destroyers, smaller combatants and transports that sank during the Solomon campaign. Both navies had the same mission, to land reinforcements and supplies in order to support their troops, and to prevent the enemy from doing the same.

After midnight one night in August 1942, the Japanese force slipped unobserved past the Allied destroyers, entered the sound and began the action which became known as the Battle of Savo Island. Firing torpedo's and shells, they dashed past the Southern Patrol Force. Before the Allies could respond the Japanese torpedoes had blown a hole in the heavy cruiser Chicago's bow and crushed the side of the Australian heavy cruiser Canberra, which lost all way and began to blaze under a hail of enemy shells.

The attacking Japanese column, still unscathed, split into two divisions and wheeled north, three cruisers passing across the front of the North Patrol Force and four steaming across the rear, searchlights open, guns blazing. In the minutes all three cruisers of the North Force, the American heavies Vincennes, Astoria, and Qunicy, were afire and listing. Qunicy managed to get a couple of shells into the Japanese flagship Chokai, smashing the staff chartroom killing 34 men. Hits made by other American cruisers did only minor damage.

Inside the sound, Qunicy and Vincennes had gone down shortly after the battle. Canberra, her Commanding Officer Captain F.E. Getting mortally wounded and the ship heavily damaged, was unable to depart. Hit by 24 shells in less than 2 minutes, 84 of Canberra's crew members were killed. The next morning, Rear Admiral Victor Crutcheley, the task force commander, returned to the battle scene and after seeing Canberra dead in the water ordered her to be sunk. Some 620 unharmed members of the 816-strong crew were taken off the ship by American destroyers before the cruiser was sent to the bottom at 0800 the next morning.In the end, the battle cost the Allies four desperately needed heavy cruisers and over a thousand lives. On 20 October 1942, the heavily reinforced Japanese Imperial Army on Guadalcanal and Vice Admiral Nobutaki Kondo's Fleet of 4 Carriers, 5 Battleships, 14 Cruisers and 44 Destroyers began a coordinated attack on the Eastern Solomon Islands that would leave the United States without an operational aircraft carrier in the Pacific Fleet and showcase the power of the battleship one last time.

Three weeks later on the early morning of 13 November, the Japanese and Allies collided in what became a fierce three-day battle that marked the last major Japanese Offensive in the South Pacific. CAPT Wisecup, former Commanding Officer of USS Callaghan, shared an account of the Battle of Guadalcanal where Rear Admiral Daniel Callaghan, onboard USS San Francisco, and Rear Admiral Norman Scott, onboard USS Atlanta, along with several hundred other Allied sailors died as the Japanese attempted to retake the Island of Guadalcanal from the 1 st Marine Division led by Major General Archer Vandegrift.

Battle of Kula Gulf

In 1943, the Americans continued to move north through the Central Solomon Islands and the Japanese responded with the night operations, known as the Toyko Express. The Navy had learned from their mistakes during the battles off the coast of Guadalcanal and responded with new radars, tactics and permanent task groups. In the early morning of July 6, 1943, A cruiser-destroyer force led by Rear Admiral Walden Ainsworth engaged a group of Japanese destroyers in what became known as the Battle of Kula Gulf.

During the battle three Japanese torpedo's hit the cruiser Helena cutting her in two, leaving nearly 1,000 cruisermen in the water with only her bow pointing at the sky. When her bow was discovered, Nicholas, the DESRON 21 flagship, and Radford were ordered to pick up survivors. At the same time, the Japanese were making approaches on the rescue ships, as they were also intent on picking up survivors. Breaking off rescue efforts and then returning twice, the two ships lingered until dawn. Then, as they were only 60 miles from the Japanese airstrip to the north, they abandoned their whaleboats and headed back to Guadalcanal at 36 knots. Both Nicholas and Radford received Presidential Unit Citations for this action.

(Courtesy of the USS Jarrett website)


Page revised Feb. 2, 2007